Pier Pressure

Doesn’t time fly? It’s now a year since Fishing for Life, the National Angling Strategy was launched by the former Fisheries Minister, Richard Benyon. Just to remind you, the strategy aims to get more people fishing, more often, and to bring angling right into the heart of communities.  One of the ways of achieving this is to open up community waters which includes opening up access to sea angling venues which may currently be off limits, such as harbours, marinas, ports and piers.

It’s for this reason we were so to help the Sussex Marine Region buy shares in the Hastings Pier community share offer. The proceeds from the share offer will provide the final funding needed to rebuild this famous Sussex seaside landmark that provided generations of sea anglers with accessible fishing. The Angling Trust’s share purchase was firstly to support the rebuilding of the pier but also to then give anglers in Sussex a say in what happens on the pier and how it is managed when it is rebuilt ; we want to ensure that angling remains integral to the pier – opening up a new community fishing mark.

Fast forward a fortnight and our focus had moved to another pier, this time in Lowestoft, Suffolk, where the South pier had suddenly been closed after the local council gave up their lease and the owners, Associated British Ports (ABP), decided that the cost of maintenance and public liability was too much to bear and closed the pier indefinitely. Lowestoft Sea Angling Society was soon asking us for our help in finding out what could be done to reinstate access to the pier. At the invitation of ABP, and with the involvement of the local MP, we are now in the process of putting together a proposal, with various options, outlining how access to the pier could be reinstated and the concerns over maintenance and public liability overcome. Again, we hope to be able to reopen this community fishing mark and help to keep angling at the heart of the community in Lowestoft.

In between these two pier to pier projects we found ourselves yet again helping a local club overcome the decision of a local authority, this time in Dorset where Weymouth and Portland District Council threatened to terminate Weymouth Angling Society’s lease and bulldoze it’s clubhouse in favour of building a new car park in the town. Angling Trust Chief Executive Mark Lloyd, who grew up fishing in Dorset, didn’t hesitate to attend a meeting between anglers and the council to explain to the councillors the huge social, community and economic benefits that sea angling brings to the town and the fact that, with a government-supported National Angling Strategy aimed at getting more people fishing more often, this could turn out to be an own goal for the council unless there was a major rethink!

Three local issues in as many weeks that the Angling Trust is involved in supporting sea angling and helping to achieve our mission to get more people fishing and to make sure angling remains an important part of local communities…